Today’s heavy work demands versus our personal-time can cause conflicts for many of us and negatively affect our professional and personal relationships. We are often overworked and overtired and are being asked to work extended hours with unlimited commitment if we want to get ahead. There no longer seems to be a work schedule, but rather an unwritten understanding, we will do what it takes to get the job done.
With our current business conditions we have more responsibilities and work to do with less help and fewer resources. We feel pressure to perform our jobs well, and we work long days, often on weekends, and many of us travel as well. Heavy workloads are making our lives more stressful, which in turn can produce conflicts at the office, creating resentment towards our employer, and difficulties with coworkers and customers.
When we have to juggle work-time and personal-time, it takes a toll on us and can strain our relationships with loved ones. When we feel we must work constantly, there never seems to be enough time to get every thing done. Work commitments take us away from personal and family activities, leaving little time for family, friends and ourselves. The result is we become overburdened from carrying too many responsibilities often making us irritable and short-tempered. The increased stress frequently causes sleep problems. The most prevalent complaints are we either have trouble going to sleep, or we awaken in the night and can’t go back to sleep.
Following is Joyce B’s story, a young attorney from Chicago, who is also a wife and mother. She felt overwhelmed and overburdened due to the heavy pressure of her schedule. Her story illustrates how carrying so many responsibilities impacted her ability to sleep. Stress and lack of sleep in turn affected her family and work relationships.
Joyce always liked being involved in lots of activities. Even as a teenager and during college, she joined clubs and participated in extra curricular activities in addition to working to earn money to pay college expenses. She told me she felt good about herself and important when she was constantly busy. Keeping busy meant she was successful.
As a 38-year-old attorney, wife and mother of a young baby, she found herself going day and night. She began having difficulty sleeping after the baby was born, but even after he began sleeping through the night, she still tossed and turned in bed. It took her a long time to go to sleep–frequently it was two or three o’clock in the morning before she finally gave into much needed sleep. If the baby should awaken her, she always had trouble going back to sleep.
Soon Joyce became tense and anxious much of the time. She would lay awake in bed thinking about her plans and busy schedule for the days ahead-the calls she would have to make for the case she was currently working on, the plans she would have to arrange so she could make sure the baby was well cared for, her worries about paying the mounting bills that she and her husband were getting each month, and the strategies she needed to complete all of her household tasks. The constant pressure of her many responsibilities weighed heavily on her.
Due to lack of sleep, she became irritable and short-tempered. She didn’t enjoy her life much anymore. She and her husband began fighting about their relationship. She told him she didn’t feel he was helping enough around the house. He responded that she was moody and difficult to be around.
Joyce was having problems at the office too. She noticed the legal assistant wasn’t as available to help her with casework as before, and the other attorneys seemed to avoid her. Some days she felt terribly overwhelmed; she knew she had too much to do. She also knew she was driving herself to keep going, but just couldn’t seem to stop. She felt she was on a merry-go-round that required all her energy just to drag herself out of bed and make it through another day.
Joyce’s story is typical of millions of women today who are experiencing sheer exhaustion, because we have too much going on in our lives. We drive ourselves and feel we should be able to do everything well-engage in a full time career and also be a good wife, mother and homemaker. We begin to feel anxious when we’re not able to meet the expectations of others and ourselves. As our stress levels build up our ability to get the quality sleep we need suffers, ultimately leading to strained relationships. The more sleep-deprived we are, the more tense we become, the more conflicts we seem to have with others, and the less we are able to accomplish.
Joyce tried using meditation and relaxation techniques and found that to be very helpful. It calmed the worries and anxieties she felt at bedtime. Within a short time her sleep had improved and she was feeling much better. As she reduced her fatigue levels, her spirits lifted and she began feeling much more in control of her life.
Make quality sleep a part of your life. You’ll be glad you did!